Ben Seretan


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Ben Seretan never seems to do anything halfway. His records are either filled-to-bursting with sounds, ideas, and personal mythology, erupting into catchy choruses and half-screamed mantras

(like the twangy tape hiss of 2016's Bowl of Plums or the cathartic post-faith breakups of "Youth Pastoral") or they are - in his words - patient & unfurling, lyric-less & sprawling, like the 24-hour-long monolith "My Life's Work," a towering album of guitar clouds recorded straight through over three nights in summer, sunset to sunrise. His latest record for NNA may feel like a departure for listeners who discovered Ben during a flurry of stoked reviews for Youth Pastoral (it was named one of the best albums of 2020 by both Pitchfork & Paste Magazine). On "Cicada Waves," Seretan trades his clanging guitar solos, shouted prayers, and elegiac sax runs for a solitary antique grand piano in a dance studio profoundly surrounded by the flora and fauna in the rainy forests of the Appalachian Mountains. More often than not, the record is the sound of a piano *not* played, and the assorted insects and weather events take our focus. It's not just a spare piano record. True to his all-in nature, it's an extremely spare piano record, a wordless, foggy, winged dream. Seretan has a number of other projects, too - he's a founder of the collectively-run, bottom-up record label Whatever's Clever and, every Thursday, he publishes a new track and a piece of writing via a newsletter called My Big Break.